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(Crystal Proenza is associate editor of Real Estate Florida.)

[IMGCAP(1)]JACKSONVILLE, FL-Locally based Regency Centers Corp. has undergone a leadership change, starting at the top. Mary Lou Fiala has stepped down as president of the retail REIT, but will remain on board as COO and vice chairman until her retirement at the end of the year. Chief investment officer Brian Smith has been appointed president of Regency, and chief financial officer Bruce Johnson has been named executive vice president.

“Although Mary Lou is planning to retire at the end of 2009, she will continue to stay longer if conditions dictate,” Regency CEO Martin Stein Jr. stated in a release. “Initially there will not be a significant change in responsibility between Mary Lou and Brian. They, along with Bruce and me, will continue to work seamlessly as a team in our respective roles.”

[IMGCAP(2)]Fiala also serves as chairman of the International Council of Shopping Centers, with her one-year term set to expire in May. Peter Sharpe, president and CEO of Toronto-based Cadillac Fairview Corp., has been nominated to succeed Fiala.

Smith has served in numerous leadership roles at the retail REIT sine 1999, and was previously managing director with Pacific Retail Trust, which was acquired by Regency. Johnson has remained in his role as managing director and CFO since 1993, and was previously vice president of Barnett Winston Trust, an equity and REIT.

As part of its preliminary fourth-quarter and year-end report, Regency also announced that it has begun to dissolve initial co-investment entities it has formed with joint partner Macquarie Countrywide Trust. During a Regency conference call this morning it was revealed that MCW is continuing to seek further property sales or entity transactions. Approximately 40 properties the two companies held jointly were effected, and have been divided according to Regency’s 25% holdings in the venture, Tiffany McAneny, Regency’s manager of communications, tells GlobeSt.com. The dissolution of the entities is expected to result in a liquidation fee of $11 million to $13 million paid to Regency in the form of additional property distributions, stated a release. “However, we are still partnered with them on three other entities that own 123 assets that were not effected,” says McAneny.

Regency has reported funds from operations for 2008 as $263.8 million, or $3.75 per diluted share, compared to $293.9 million or $4.20 per diluted share for 2007. “The decline in FFO was primarily due to impairment charges and an increase in the write-off of dead deal costs as well as a lower level of development gains in 2008,” the report stated.

The company currently has 48 projects under construction throughout the US, two of which broke ground in the fourth quarter of 2008. Those projects, which include a 158,140-square-foot shopping center outside of Greeley, CO and a 77,300-square-foot shopping center in Los Angeles, are valued at $24 million.

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